Year-end giving is upon us. Okay, at least the planning part is. If you do not have a year-end giving plan yet, my advice is to get one. If you do, my advice is to adjust it.
In the normal cycle of social media, mail, email, meetings, phone calls, and website strategy, the dynamics of 2020 give a reason for pause. This year will not be so much about the combination of communication channels you choose, but how you position yourself and what message you share.
A lot has happened in 2020. Adjust what and how you communicate with your stakeholders. It is important you distinguish yourself and make your message clear. As you plan your communication, keep in mind some things have changed, and some have stayed the same.
What has changed that you need to consider?
- Impact of the pandemic.
– People first. People give to people. Help donors connect with the people you serve. It is critical that your donors understand how the pandemic has impacted the population you serve and how you serve them.
– Organization second. Be frank with donors. Tell them about adjustments in services, difficult decisions made, and the effect of government rules and guidelines on your work, your staff, and your budget.
- Cultural connection. Second to the pandemic, racial equity concerns remain front-of-mind. Tell donors what your ministry is doing to advance diversity and equity internally as well as in your community.
- Timing. You may need to make your appeal earlier in fourth quarter if you are enduring a financial hardship. Or, if you are in crisis, consider a rational, incremental ask. Be rational, educational and frank- not alarmist. Donors understand extenuating circumstances, and they respect transparency.
- Digital. Develop a plan to integrate and leverage digital platforms in your communication. Regardless of the ability to connect in-person, a robust online giving experience is important. Do not put obstacles in the way of a generous donor.
What has stayed the same?
- Donor-centric. Donors should remain the hero of the story. Don’t make this about your financial need; share how the donor can make an impact.
- Focus on the lives of individuals and how the work impacts them. Tell stories well. Engage a donor’s emotions and inspire action.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. And so are videos, if they are short. Share images of your work. Hint: photos of one or two or a small group are more impactful than a large gathering.
- This seems obvious, right? Well, make it obvious for the donor too. Electronic communication should have more than one clickable link to give. Be clear about the action you want them to take and how much you need.
- Meet in person when possible. Good news! Nearly 80 percent of mid and major donors are willing to meet one-on-one according to a recent study by Dickerson Bakker. Don’t assume you have to go digital. Of course, be sure health and safety measures are followed and local guidelines respected as well.
I believe giving from Jesus-followers will remain resilient this year. They will give if you ask and they are able. But they also may need more information. Be sure your donors know how your work connects with the pandemic and the culture and be honest about how it has impacted your organization. Don’t scale back. Lean in. Your donors want to help. Give them a reason and a way to do so.